If you haven’t purchased a Nintendo Switch yet, you can now choose between two different options. There’s the original system, which offers portability and connected game programs alongside interchangeable Joy-Con controllers, and the Nintendo Switch Lite, the smaller, cheaper alternative.
The Switch Lite is similar to the original handheld, but it has a few key design changes that can pique or take your interest. These two options represent a considerable number of options, but which one is the best for you will depend on what you are looking for. In this article, we explain the differences between each console to help you make up your mind.
Design and Features
The standard Nintendo Switch is a hybrid console. It can be played as a portable system or in tabletop mode with the included stand and as a home console on the base. Its performance isn’t the main selling point and it falls somewhere between the Wii U and the standard Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles. What makes the Switch special, however, are the multiple uses.
Aside from the docking station, the switch acts like a typical portable system. A Joy-Con controller is locked on both sides with the same button and stick arrangement that you would expect from a standard gamepad. However, you can still remove the Joy-Con controllers, place the system in the docking station, and play the system like a home console. This “change” is instantaneous and you can remove the console from the docking station and play it like a portable system just as quickly.
The Switch Lite doesn’t have many of the features that make the Switch unique. This is reflected in its reduced price. The system does not have a docking station or a way to connect it to a television.
The controls on both sides are similar to the Joy-Con controls but are an integral part of the system. The weight and size of the screen have been reduced, from 6.2 inches to 5.5 inches. Both systems have a 720p compatible display.
But the biggest difference is the new custom Tegra X1 + chip. While its functionality is almost identical to the original Switch, it is much more efficient and results in longer battery life on the Switch Lite, up to 7.5 hours. Nintendo has quietly rolled out a makeover of the original Switch with this new processor, which nearly doubles the battery life of the original console. Unfortunately, the box and serial number can only indicate if it is a new switch. If it’s a red box, it’s the new switch. If the serial number begins with “XKW”, this is also the new one. Apart from the new processor, the two models are identical.
Cloud storage is compatible with the Switch as long as you have a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online. This way, you will likely have access to your game progress on both systems.
The ability to transfer data between the two devices is possible, but not immediately. Just like you would switch from one Switch to another, you can transfer your entire account to the Switch Lite whenever you want to choose one. However, you can only log in and out if you manually upload your profile each time.
The original Nintendo Switch comes with two Joy-Con controllers in the basic package, as well as the Joy-Con grip. When connected to the Switch, the Joy-Con controllers function the same as the controls on the Switch Lite. However, once you have signed out, you have many more options.
Flipped sideways, a Joy-Con controller can be used just like a normal NES gamepad, and the buttons in the rail area can be lifted with the included Joy-Con straps.
When you insert the two Joy-Con controllers into the Joy-Con grip, they look like a traditional gamepad. This is the main way to play games on the docking station, unless you buy a Pro controller.
While the Switch Lite supports these controllers over a Bluetooth connection, its own controls cannot be disconnected. As a result, you will need to buy at least one Joy-Con controller to play the system with a friend and a stand to put it down, as the standard Switch stand has been removed from the Switch Lite.
However, the fixed controls mean that the Switch Lite receives a full control panel. For some platform games that require precise jumps, this could make the Switch Lite the preferred option, at least for those who don’t want to play their games on a TV.
One type of controller that the Switch Lite doesn’t seem to support at all is the GameCube controller. An adapter is available to use this controller in the standard switch, but it is connected via a USB port on the docking station and not directly to the console. No dock with Switch Lite, no USB port.